March 8, 2018

Names Not Numbers Helps Shed Light on Often Forgotten Reality of the Holocaust

Sam Lurie ‘19

“You have to eat sweet potato. It’s very healthy for you!,” joked Marsha Kreuzman during our interview.  “Sweet potato is very healthy for all of you, so please eat it! As for me… I prefer [to] die.”
It was this strange mix of humor and depression that filled most of my group’s Names Not Numbers interview with Mrs. Kreuzman, a survivor of five concentration camps. Through Names Not Numbers, high school students interview and film Holocaust survivors and learn to create and edit a documentary about their stories. My experience interviewing Mrs. Kreuzman will be one I always remember.  
One minute, Mrs. Kreuzman would be asking us to smile, or commenting on how we looked old enough to be professors, while the next moment she would lament how she wished to commit suicide.  
I wasn’t sure what to make of this. I have met survivors before, but never a survivor who brings in humor while telling his or her story and conversely, one who makes such depressing statements as “I still want to commit suicide today.”  
Most survivors I’ve met previously were obviously emotional telling their stories, however, they all ended with a message of hope; that they were still here, enjoying life, or that they had children and grandchildren who were abe to carry on their family’s legacy.
Mrs. Kreuzman did not try to deliver this message to us. She told us that she had no children, nobody with whom to spend the Jewish holidays. At one point in the interview, she plainly told us there is nothing to live for.
This has taught me an incredibly valuable lesson about the Holocaust. I used to believe that the one silver lining of this tragedy, was that in the end, we won the war and ultimately Israel. The Jewish people were still enjoying life today.
I now realize that this is not true for everyone.  
Mrs. Kreuzman survived the war, but her will to live sadly did not. It is important to remember that the Holocaust not only afflicted physical wounds on the Jewish people, but also invisibile, untreatable wounds.
As a member of the final generation with the privilege of meeting Holocaust survivors, it is my duty, as well as the duty of all Jewish people, to learn and pass on the stories of those who survived and those who did not.

This is why I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of Names Not Numbers, so that I can pass on Mrs. Kreuzman’s story and do my part in ensuring the Holocaust is never repeated.

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